Opportunities on the radar for business growth between Jacksonville and Aruba

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Oranjestad, Aruba Marina
Apr 27, 2023 | Cargo Blog

JAXPORT recently connected a visiting delegation from the Country of Aruba with Jacksonville-area business and port leaders to collaborate on strategies to advance objectives outlined in a recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between JAXPORT and Aruba.

Signed during the March JAXPORT Board of Directors meeting, the MoU affirms ongoing efforts by JAXPORT and Aruba to promote business and tourism opportunities between the two regions, share best practices on port operations and environmental sustainability, and explore the potential for trade and business development.

Following the onset of COVID-19, the International Monetary Fund indicated Aruba was one of the countries worst hit by the pandemic due to the shutdown of tourism. Aruba leaders are working to diversify the island’s economy, a strategy JAXPORT has embraced.

Aruba signing ceremony

“At JAXPORT, much of our success has involved diversification of our business, a testament to the strength of our partners, including many of you who are here with us,” JAXPORT CEO Eric Green said during the roundtable. “Our goal is that as Aruba prospers, Jacksonville prospers, and vice versa.”

"Our goal is that as Aruba prospers, Jacksonville prospers."
Eric Green

During the discussion, participants identified several areas for future collaboration between Jacksonville and Aruba, including the:

  • Facilitation of clean energy expansion on the island;
  • Collaborating on best port practices in port operations, technology, security and environmental management; and
  • Exploration of business and tourism opportunities.

JAXUSA President Aundra Wallace highlighted Northeast Florida’s position as the fourth strongest regional economy in the U.S., with a diverse business ecosystem from finance and healthcare to transportation and logistics. Wallace told the delegation that the partnership with Aruba fits into Jacksonville’s larger plan for growth.

“As we focus on foreign direct investment and various industries that we target from a recruitment standpoint, Aruba fits nicely in the Jacksonville region,” Wallace said. “There are great opportunities for Northeast Florida and Aruba to do business well beyond transportation and logistics.”

Eagle LNG with Aruba Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes

Furthering sustainability, JAXPORT partner Eagle LNG recently signed a multi-year agreement with Aruba’s power and water utility company, Utilities Aruba NV, to provide liquefied natural gas (LNG) from their Jacksonville facility for power generation on the island. The initiative is part of ongoing efforts by the Aruban government to enhance sustainability, reduce fuel costs, and transition to cleaner fuel sources.

As leaders in Jacksonville and Aruba examine opportunities to grow business connections, Aruba’s leadership told the roundtable that they have capacity for additional cargo vessel calls. One of Aruba’s goals is to diversify the distribution points allowing opportunity for vessels with more cargo to call Aruba’s port, including transshipment opportunities from nearby islands.

While the group explores trade, there is also opportunity beyond port terminals. The Aruban delegation also highlighted warehousing opportunities, available land to be developed on the island, and ongoing development projects that use imported materials.

Additionally, Aruba and Jacksonville each serve as popular tourism destinations. Visit Jacksonville President and CEO Michael Corrigan says the MoU highlights the prospect of working with Aruba’s leaders to promote mutually beneficial tourism opportunities.

“Visit Jacksonville is excited about our new friends in Aruba and we can’t wait to work together – it’s important that Jacksonville citizens know about Aruba and take the opportunity to go there and increase tourism,” Corrigan said. “We look forward to introducing Jacksonville to the Aruba market to show them we’re a great destination to visit, as well.”

Aruba roundtable

Thank you to the port partners who joined JAXPORT’s CEO Eric Green, Chief Commercial Officer Robert Peek, Chief Financial Officer and Chief of Staff Beth McCague, Chief of Regulatory Compliance Nick Primrose, Chief Operating Officer James Bennett, and Director of Cargo Development Alberto Cabrera in the roundtable. Participants include:

Marc Figaroa, Aruba Ports Authority CEO
David Dubero, Aruba Ports Authority Chairman of the Board
Andin Bikker, Aruba Ministry of Tourism and Public Health Senior Legal Advisor
Dangui Oduber, Aruba Minister of Tourism and Public Health
Aundra Wallace, JAXUSA Partnership
Sean Lalani, Eagle LNG Partners
Jeff Hall, Eagle LNG Partners
Cas Pouderoyen, SeaLead Shipping
Sal Menoyo, Crowley
Tom Wallace, TOTE
Scott Fernandez, Aqua Gulf
Steve Keats, Kestrel Liner
Julia Mcinnis, Landstar
Michael Corrigan, Visit Jacksonville
Mike Cooney, Enterprise Florida